She is the biggest name of Indian television. Ekta Kapoor is an eternal success story women live by. She has redefined an industry with her dedication, passion and will-power thats an inspiration for many. Saimik Sen, CEO, WCRC LEADERS ASIA in a conversation with EKTA KAPOOR
More than 100 different television programs across 5 languages and as many as 21 films till 2014. In your own perception- How did Ekta Kapoor emerge as one of the most powerful Indian women?
I don’t know how you can define power, but for me
it is not the 100 shows that matter, but the fact that 60 percent of India’s cable audience was watching those shows. So you land up realizing that not only are you entertaining growing middle class, you are influencing the minds of the social fabric of the country. India with huge population and having it’s the hugest say with its ethnic audience all over the world; it was an interesting journey for me also from 2000 when ‘Kyunki’ went on air.
It was those 5 shows that probably spoke more than any other did to the ethnic as well as similar sensibility audiences.
To actually realize you have created characters, and thought processes, fashions and probably changed not only styling, but thinking and behavioral patterns in almost the growing generations of cable watching homes. I think that’s unimaginable power and humbling at the same time.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
We have a lot of complaints and accusations from pluralists like television is regressive, pulls you down to basic sensibility but actually its traditional not regressive. Boston Research Company did its independent research and found that Indian television during the years from 2003-2007 was highly watched, women started emulating their popular characters on TV and had voice in family discussions which used to be a man’s domain. It kind of established a norm. And I think that more than any TRP or any other professional achievement could be the biggest achievement. Also there were reports that after the tragic Gujarat earthquake, people were watching a lot of television at that time to get over the immense pain that they went through. TV was a source of entertainment but also an escape that helped them. And today also I think TV and Films are voices to communicate. Now with Balaji Motion Pictures and different section of audience altogether, it’s interesting to communicate with so many people at one time.
What is one thing you would wish to change about the entertainment industry?
I think we are way bigger risk takers than any other manufacturing, real estate or any other company but the weightage of cultivated talent as compared to any other industry is relatively low. We don’t have enough acting schools, or talent management, or skill growth schools. We are not accepted in colleges as a separate study which should be because it can definitely be another arm of profession. I think when that happens, films will have a lot more talent, and dependency only on a certain amount of people will be much lesser.
You have given television a stature that no one else before you could give. What were the challenges you faced.
Television got a naturalized stature; I was just a part of its formation. Television gave me stature!
I think people don’t realize the power of this medium that goes to people’s home every day and to be a part of that was just great. But there was a time when everybody was taking films and I took television. That was the time I had no option and I had to do something with my life, so I took it and I loved it so much.
I never can say that television was re established by me. I guess it’s my love for the medium and medium’s love for me that has established us both.
‘Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki’ and ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ were the initial two serials that brought a revolution on Indian television. For the very first time, Indian daily soaps were woven around women characters rather than men. Was that idea to specifically empower women?
See we have always believed that exactly opposite happens on TV to that of films. So it’s actually a funny take, but in movies men are the heroes and women are the glamour dolls, and for television women are the heroes and men are the glamour dolls. So women are there handling the issues, and men are there looking good. It was a medium for women and by women. It was for those 70 percent of women, who are homemakers and they were not getting what they wanted to watch.
“It is she who rules the remote or rules the TV. It is her domain”.
You are credited with single-handedly changing the way India spends its evenings. Who or what has been your guiding force throughout?
My mother, always!
I have had a lot of support from my dad for investing in my company but my mom almost gave her life to us. After being a star wife, to producer and handling the economy of the business so well. I think my guiding force was her because I would see what she liked watching, I would see her responses. She was demography, very traditional yet forward thinking. She became ‘Tulsi and Parvati’ for me.
One thing you have to let go of as a Producer.
You have to be overall aware of the jobs your profession is creating, of the repercussions of having an ego in a profession like yours. Your creativity is constantly in question because everyone else is in the opinion after you put in the money.
In the end you have to decide what is bigger your ego or your product.
A message from you to all the rising women entrepreneurs
Sometimes your disadvantages become your advantages. So, you have to find the possibilities in the lack of opportunities!
You can just put yourself out there because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. You never lose!